Juniperus virginiana 'Grey Owl'

Tried and Trouble-free Recommended by 7 Professionals
Common Name: red cedar
Type: Needled evergreen
Family: Cupressaceae
Zone: 2 to 9
Height: 2.00 to 3.00 feet
Spread: 4.00 to 6.00 feet
Bloom Time: Non-flowering
Bloom Description: Non-flowering
Sun: Full sun
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Suggested Use: Hedge
Leaf: Evergreen
Attracts: Birds
Fruit: Showy
Other: Winter Interest
Tolerate: Deer, Drought, Erosion, Dry Soil, Shallow-Rocky Soil, Black Walnut, Air Pollution


Easily grown in average, dry to moist, well-drained soils in full sun. Tolerates a wide range of soils and growing conditions, from swamps to dry rocky glades. Prefers moist soils but is intolerant of constantly wet soils. It has the best drought resistance of any conifer native to the eastern U.S.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Juniperus virginiana, commonly called Eastern red cedar, is native to Missouri where it typically occurs on limestone bluffs and glades, wood margins, fields, pastures and fence rows throughout the state except for the southeastern lowlands (Steyermark). It is a broadly conical, sometimes columnar, dense, evergreen conifer with horizontal branching that typically grows to 30-65’ tall. Gray to reddish-brown bark exfoliates in thin shreddy strips on mature trees. Trunks are often fluted at the base. Heartwood is light brown and aromatic, and is commonly used for cedar chests. Dark blue green scale-like foliage. Foliage may turn brown-green in winter. Cultivars of this species often retain better foliage color in winter. This is a dioecious species (separate male and female trees). Female trees produce round, gray to blackish-green berry-like cones (1/4” diameter) that ripen in fall the first year. Berry-like cones are attractive to many birds.

Genus name comes from the Latin name for the juniper.

Specific epithet means of Virginia.

'Grey Owl' is a broad, slow-growing cultivar with a compact, wide-spreading habit which typically grows up to 3' tall (infrequently larger) and to 6' wide. Features scale-like, silver gray foliage. A female form which produces profuse, glaucous, berry-like cones which are attractive to birds. This plant may be a hybrid, but it is usually listed for sale as a cultivar of Juniperus virginiana.


No serious insect or disease problems. Cedar apple rust is a common problem for many different junipers, but this cultivar has good resistance. Susceptible to twig blight and scale. Watch for bagworms. Mites may occur.

Garden Uses

Specimen, shrub border or hedge. Mass for windbreaks or screens. Avoid planting near apple trees.